Meet Helen Woollams, the award wining designer behind women’s wear label, ‘Hellavagirl’. Launched in 2011, with over 15 years of experience in the industry, Helen has had her collections featured in Vogue and many other magazines. Since graduating from the London College of Fashion with a highly accredited final collection, Helen has worked as a freelance designer, producing three collections a year under the Hellavagirl label. Each piece of her assemblage is individual and unique, being produced and hand-finished in her UK based studio. Helen also offers a made-to-measure, bespoke dress service with personal designs, measurement consultations and fittings.
We followed Helen with her new collection at the London Fashion Week – Fashions Finest Show www.fashionsfinest.com SS16 – 19-21st September 2015.
“My inspiration for this collection was ‘A diary of a lost soul’. I wanted the collection to evoke the pangs of innocence versus the fierceness of first lust, love, loss, anger and the relentless exhaustion of all of these. The garments themselves have a narrative. The silhouettes were inspired and developed through creatively playing with proportions, which is always the underlying handwriting in the way my collections develop.”
Photography on behalf of PHOTOSHOOT Magazine: Darren Skidmore – www.darrenskidmorephotography.com
An interview with Helen …
1. When did you first become interested in fashion?
I have always been interested in fashion but more about how and why people dress the way they do and the links between music and fashion and class, grouping and fashion. I am obsessed with history and people, so I think this is where my addiction comes from.
2. What was your very first design?
The first one I recall was for a TV programme competition and all I remember was it was a bright, Bauhaus-inspired jumpsuit with this huge voluminous cape coat. I think I have always veered on the side of voluptuous clothing from a young age.
3. Did you always want to do fashion design?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. It was always going to be art and fashion. It’s where my heart lies.
4. Where do you get your greatest inspiration from?
I collect old photographs. I like nothing more than finding family portraits and wondering about what was happening then and what life was like behind their eyes. I am inspired by feelings and try to create and represent an emotion. Also, I use silhouette and proportion to try and change and exaggerate shape and movement. They are key factors in my collections.
5. What is your favourite era for fashion?
I actually couldn’t pinpoint one as there are so many. I’m obsessed by history now but I never was at school. That upsets me as it’s so unbelievably intriguing and it should have been an amazing subject to learn. I think it was just taught badly in my school years and it was a mundane subject for me then.
6. What made you decide to create your own label?
I was a freelance designer for many years, designing and creating other’s visions and not my own. I finally decided it was now or never, as I couldn’t sleep for thinking of ideas and wanted to bring them to life.
7. What has been the hardest part of launching ‘Hellavagirl’?
The hardest part for me is that at the end of the day when not everyone wants to do couture (although I can’t understand why not), so I have a ready-to-wear range as well. I have to make sure that I spend time developing this as it sells more. But, if left to my own devices, it would be couture all day and every day. The leap into launching my own label was also scary and the financial aspects of what we are doing, having to be in control of the numbers, is hard. It is not something which comes naturally to me.
8. What has been the most exciting aspect of it?
Being able to create purely under my own vision and having complete creative licence. Also, creating couture, not being told to be commercial (I hate that word), being my own boss and being able to inspire others … I could go on and on.
It is also exciting to spend time with amazing people who have determination and vision and collaborating and feeding off of each other’s passion. I learn so much every day and want to keep learning.
9. 6 tips for a hopeful, up-and-coming designer?
(i) Be prepared to work harder than you ever thought possible and then some
(ii) Be open to constructive criticism
(iii) Learn and gain knowledge and experience from everywhere you can
(vi) Surround yourself with positive people
(v) Always keep your sketchbook to hand, as inspiration is everywhere
(vi) Draw or sketch ideas every single day
10. After LFW show, what is next for you?
Paris Fashion Week.
We look forward to working with Helen and some of her incredible designs on our Autumn issue cover photo-shoot.